Story By Justin Toscano
New Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards has been hard at work since his introductory press conference in early December. He’s gone through the early signing period and filled his staff while becoming accustomed to the daily grind of a college football coach.
And in doing that, he’s perhaps easing some of the concerns surrounding him. Sure, he hasn’t coached in college in about three decades. His record as an NFL coach isn’t great. In fact, it’s the opposite. He was formerly an ESPN analyst, so he hasn’t been a full-time coach in about a decade.
On the Brad Cesmat Show on Wednesday, Edwards said he didn’t believe players were concerned with his time on television.
“These guys are well-connected enough to know, ‘Is he the same guy on television? How is he as a coach?’,” Edwards said. “They know who I am, now they’re seeing if my words and actions match up.”
He won the introductory press conference. But that was expected. Now it’s time to see how he builds a program.
The program signed 11 players during the early signing period. Edwards added to his staff, most notably hiring San Diego State’s Danny Gonzales as defensive coordinator. He also took Tony White, a well-known recruiter with Southern California ties, from the Aztecs and made him the defensive backs coach.
Edwards also promoted Rob Likens from receivers coach to offensive coordinator, and moved Donnie Yantis up to the new 10th assistant slot.
He maintains one principle.
“If you can’t teach, you’re not going to be on my staff,” Edwards said.
Edwards and his staff have been actively recruiting Arizona thus far. Their job will be made more difficult by University of Arizona’s hire of Kevin Sumlin, well-known for how he recruited Arizona during his Texas A&M tenure.
Edwards shared one of the messages he’ll give local recruits.
“They can be heroes to the community,” Edwards said. “There’s nothing like playing on a team that is in your state. Your loved ones, your family, your high school, they can follow you.
Between now and National Signing Day, Edwards said he wants to continue upgrading his roster. That seems obvious, but he went deeper.
He said fans will notice something different about Sun Devil football players in a couple years. It’ll be something about the DNA.
What do you mean?
“Just how they look,” Edwards said.
Edwards discussed the national championship game and the athletes who played in it.
“Maybe eventually, we may look like that,” he said.
As for what level he’ll recruit, Edwards said he’ll dip into both high school and junior college. He said high school recruits must be the foundation of a program, and JUCO players should be used to fill holes here and there.
His job won’t be easy, though. In addition to Sumlin, the Pac-12 is also host to UCLA’s Chip Kelly, Washington’s Chris Petersen and Stanford’s David Shaw. Not to mention Clay Helton at USC, a program always in contention for top recruits.
“I’m not even in the conversation with those guys,” Edwards said. “I have not won a college football game yet.”